Vodka Sauce with Pasta

Makes approximately 4 cups

1 can diced tomatoes
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup minced sweet onion
1 tbs minced garlic cloves

1/3 cup vodka
1 cup half-and-half
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs reduced-fat grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt

I chose to use my Dutch oven instead of a large saucepan to make the sauce. Heat your vessel over medium heat, then add the oil, onions, and garlic and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are sweating and tender, but not browned, about 8 – 10 minutes.

Reduce the heat to low and add the tomatoes and vodka. Stir to combine. Slowly stir in the half-and-half, then stir in the lemon juice, Parmesan, dried basil and oregano, sugar and salt. Stir until well combined, then cover, set to the lowest heat setting, and cook for at least 3 hours. Stir occasionally. Serve immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
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TASTE NOTES
If you’ve never eaten vodka cream sauce, rest assured that you don’t really taste the vodka. I loved that this vodka cream sauce had “texture.” The onion and garlic, along with the use of crushed tomatoes, kept this from being just another cream sauce.  The sauce is sweet, rich, and coated the rigatoni almost like a meat sauce. I could have eaten a whole lot more it tasted so delicious, but I kept to my one cup of pasta and half cup of sauce and it really was more than enough to satisfy that pasta craving that seems to occur on Sundays.

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